Overall store numbers in Swindon have remained the same as they were five years ago, according to a Swindon borough councillor.

Coun Dale Heenan, the Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for the town centre, said: Overall Swindon has the same number of shops as it did five years ago, but we just have more stores now in Old Town and the Designer Outlet.

“Just three of the 57 empty units the paper has counted are owned by the council.

“Ten years ago online shopping accounted for one in every 100 sales, today it is one in every five sales. All the recent store closures in the town centre have been national chains and many, like Arcadia, are struggling.

“Arcadia closed four of its stores recently and the Topman is downsizing by relocating into Debenhams. This is the way of the world now.

“Like every town centre, Swindon’s retail area is too big.

“The town centre is focused around the Brunel Centre and The Parade, and the majority of the empty units are in the Bridge Street and Fleet Street area.

“This is why the council announced last month that it will re-designate this area as residential rather than commercial.”

He added: “Our focus is on bringing jobs and homes to the town centre and residents will soon see positive, visible changes. It will not be long before Zurich starts building the first new office development in the town centre for 20 years.

“The £35m replacement of the bus station is waiting for final funding approval from the government and the new Town Investment board met for the first time today to discuss how best to invest another £25m grant.

“However, the council can only do so much to reinvigorate the town centre and the government must play its part by sorting out business rates so it’s a level playing field between the High Street and the internet.”

Areas out of the town centre have seen a number of stores open including Five Guys and Lidl with more in the planning.